Sunday, August 1, 2010

Circumcision as a Weapon of Mass Destruction

Like all great love stories, this one begins with a rape.

Well, that's not quite accurate. It would certainly make the story more dramatic, but the truth of the matter is that Genesis, painfully detailed when it comes to the most boring parts of a story, does not care to inform us about such trivial matters as female consent. I'm not sure a woman is even capable of having an opinion about the matter, considering how we heard nothing from Sarai or Rebekah about being handed all around Egypt and Gerar for absolutely no good reason whatsoever. In fact, the only opinion or desire any woman every has in Genesis is that she wants to have a BABY. Specifically, a son. If she can't have a son (as is so often the case), she wants her slave to have a son for her so she can take credit for it. Which everyone will immediately revoke once she manages to have her own baby, because that's how adoption works. But, when it comes to the act of baby-making for its own sake, a woman is as passive as a piece of furniture.

So, to back up, a local prince (read: non-first-cousin) is smitten with Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, and 'takes' her. His soul claves unto her, he loves her, he whispers sweet nothings in her ear, he longeth for her, he begs, and gets his father to beg for him, the privilege of marrying her, at whatever dowry price her father and brothers care to name, if he can only but have her. So far, so...well, not great, exactly, but he does seem to have as good intentions as anyone in Genesis is capable of having.

The rest of the locals would love to be able to marry these hot Jewish babes as well, so I'm forced to conclude that Dinah has sisters, even though we will never hear about a single one of them. Dinah's brothers explain they cannot let their sister marry an uncircumcised man, but any man who IS circumcised may marry any of their women. The local men are only too eager to cut off the tips of their penises, if it means being welcomed into this clan of Chosen people, and every one of them eagerly does so. I can only assume this leads to a giant mass wedding, and we are left with a heartwarming tale about the beauty of peacemaking, and how divisions of race and nationality are meaningless in the face of the greater truth that We are All God's Children, and...

Oh, wait, the chapter's not over.

Three days later, every male in the city is feeling pretty sore and not at their best. At this point, two of Dinah's older brothers show up and FUCKING SLAUGHTER EVERYONE DOWN TO THE LAST MAN. They kill Dinah's fellow and his father and take her back, and then, because genocide isn't enough, the rest of Dinah's brothers show up and they loot the city down to the last penny, goat, and CHILD. That's right, they then enslave every orphan and widow they can find.

Jacob is...not happy. Not because of the genocide thing exactly, but because he thinks everyone in a 100 mile radius is going to be like, "Shit, those Israelites are insane mass murderers, we'd better band together and take care of them before they wipe out another city," which if you think about it would be a somewhat rational response. Jacob's sons reply, "What were we supposed to do, let him turn our sister into a SLUT?" Surely Jacob will now make some point about how there are right and wrong ways to respond to an undesirable situation, and genocide is NEVER the answer, and...

Oh, wait, the chapter is over.

Conspicuously absent from the 34th chapter of Genesis is God. As a result, also conspicuously absent is any moral analysis of the situation whatsoever. Were Dinah's brothers justified, or was Jacob right to scold them? Jacob is the patriarch, but Dinah's brothers get the last word. Is God pleased by this slaughter, or angered? Does he have no strong feelings one way or the other? I know what I think, but so far God and I don't see eye-to-eye on these things. Why is Jacob scared about being killed when he comes from a long line of patriarchs who inexplicably DON'T get killed after screwing over entire countries? At least Dinah doesn't get killed at the end, which I was starting to expect. But who will have her now? Only the most desperate of her first cousins, that's who.


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